Swiss French (French: français de Suisse or suisse romand) is the variety of French spoken in the French-speaking area of Switzerland known as Romandy. French is one of the four official languages of Switzerland, the others being German, Italian, and Romansch. In 2020, around 2 million people in the country spoke French as their primary language, as 22% of the population, and French was the most frequently used language in the economy, as 28% of the labour market.
|French of Switzerland|
|français de Suisse (French)|
|Native to||Romandy, Switzerland|
|2.1 million in Romandy (2020)|
|Latin (French alphabet)|
The French spoken in Switzerland is very similar to that of France or Belgium. The differences between the French of Switzerland and of France are mostly lexical, influenced by local substrate languages. This contrasts with the differences between Standard German and Swiss German, which are largely mutually unintelligible.
Swiss French is characterized by some terms adopted from Arpitan, which was formerly spoken widely across the alpine communities of Romandy, but has far fewer speakers today. In addition, some expressions have been borrowed from both Swiss and Standard German. Although a standard form of French is taught in schools and used in the government, the media and business, there is no uniform vernacular form of French among the different cantons of Switzerland. For example, some German terms in regions bordering German-speaking communities are completely unused in the area around Geneva, a city by France's border with Switzerland.
- The nasal vowels are pronounced like in France. /ɑ̃/ → [ɒ̃], /ɛ̃/ → [æ̃], /ɔ̃/ → [õ]. Conversely, the nasal vowels /ɛ̃/ and /œ̃/ are kept separate in much Swiss French speech, where much speech in France has merged them. For example, brin (stalk) and brun (brown) are still pronounced differently, like in Quebec and Belgium, unlike in Paris.
- As in Belgium, the distinction between the vowels /ɛ/ and /ɛː/ is maintained in Switzerland, but they have merged in France. For example, mettre (put) and maître (master) are still pronounced differently, unlike in France.
- The distinction between mid vowels /o/ and /ɔ/ has also been maintained in final open syllables, as well as that between /e/ and /ɛ/. For example, peau (skin) and pot (jar) are still pronounced differently, unlike in France and Quebec. For that reason, entré (entered; past participle of the verb entrer) and entrait (third-person singular of entrer in the imperfect indicative) are differentiated, where Français de référence tends to merge them.
- There is a stronger distinction between long and short vowels in Switzerland:
- Long vowels are allowed in closed syllables, even at the end of a word: ⟨ée⟩, ⟨aie⟩ [eː], ⟨ue⟩ [yː], ⟨ie⟩ [iː], ⟨oue⟩ [uː] and ⟨eue⟩ [øː]. As a result, almost all feminine adjectives are still phonetically distinct from their masculine counterparts, unlike in France and Quebec.
- Speakers also will not differentiate masculine from feminine adjectives phonetically, including in final closed syllables, although the spelling only partially bears out this occurrence, e.g. mental is pronounced /mɑ̃.tal/, whilst the feminine mentale is pronounced /mɑ̃.tɑːl/. Other minimal pairs are similarly differentiated, like amen and amène (third-person singular in the present indicative of amener, to lead).
- The marginal phoneme /ɑ/ is usually pronounced [ɑː], meaning pattes (paws) and pâtes (pasta) are differentiated. Similar to the process described above, the circumflex also affects vowel length when used above a vowel, meaning ⟨î⟩ is pronounced [iː], ⟨ê⟩ as [ɛː], ⟨û⟩ as [yː], ⟨oû⟩ as [uː] and ⟨eû⟩ [øː].
Examples of words that differ between Switzerland and FranceEdit
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2022)
|Swiss French||French of France||English||Notes|
|action||promotion||special offer||Germanism, from "Aktion" ("promotional campaign").|
|adieu||salut||hello/goodbye||In French, "adieu" means "farewell" and is generally never used except in cases where the people concerned will not meet again. In Switzerland it is used as an informal general form of greeting when people meet or leave each other.|
|attique||dernier étage||top floor|
|bancomat||Distributeur automatique de billets||ATM|
|bobet||crétin (noun) or bête/stupide (adjective)||idiot (noun) or stupid (adjective)|
|bonnard||sympa or bien||nice||Informal term.|
|bonne-main||pourboire||tip (gratuity)||Literally "good-hand".|
|borne hydrante||bouche d'incendie||fire hydrant|
|bourbine||suisse-allemand||Swiss-German||This word is considered pejorative.|
|carnotzet||cave à vin/cellier/fumoir||Wine cellar||This expression can sometimes be found in France, in places close to Switzerland.|
|collège (Genève, Valais, Fribourg) or gymnase (Vaud)||lycée||high school|
|cornet||sac en plastique||plastic bag||In France, "cornet" would typically designate an ice cream cone.|
|cutips||coton-tige||cotton bud/swab||Antonomasia from the brand Q-tips which phonetically becomes "cutips" when pronounced in French.|
|cycle (Genève, Fribourg, Valais)||collège||middle school|
|déjeuner||petit-déjeuner||breakfast||Meal names have shifted in the French of France, where déjeuner is now the name for lunch, and dîner now refers to dinner. Swiss French (like those of Belgium and Québec) has retained the older meanings.|
|dîner||déjeuner||lunch||Meal names have shifted in the French of France, where déjeuner is now the name for lunch, and dîner now refers to dinner. Swiss French (like those of Belgium and Québec) has retained the older meanings.|
|duvet||couette||comforter / duvet||"Duvet" comes from the fact that comforters used to be filled with down feather (duvet). "Duvet" in France means sleeping bag, for similar reasons.|
|s'encoubler||se prendre les pieds dans quelque chose/trébucher||to trip over|
|s'énuquer||se briser la nuque||to break one's own neck|
|étude d'avocats||cabinet d'avocats||law firm|
|fœhn||sèche-cheveux||hairdryer||Germanism, from der Föhn (the hairdryer); both names ultimately derive from the Foehn wind.|
|fonds||terrain or champs||field|
|fourre||dossier/housse||folder||In French, "fourrer" means "to stuff".|
|frouz||les Français||people from France - French||This word is considered pejorative.|
|galetas||grenier||attic||Also used in Alpine regions of France, down to Dauphiné.|
|giratoire||rond-point, giratoire||roundabout||Comes from "carrefour à sens giratoire" which would translate to "circular crossroads".|
|huitante||quatre-vingts||eighty||In Swiss French, as opposed to the French of France, the words for seventy, eighty and ninety are similar in construction to the ones used for thirty up to sixty. Huitante is only heard in Vaud, Valais and Fribourg.|
|linge||serviette||towel||Swiss French still uses the generic uncountable word “le linge” to define “laundry”, but the countable word “un/le/les linge-s” (which has no meaning in the French of France) means “une/la/les serviette-s”. Furthermore, the use of “serviette” is exclusively for “napkin” in Swiss French, whereas in regular French it could mean both “towel” or “napkin”.|
|maman de jour||assistante maternelle||day care assistant|
|mascogner||tricher aux examens||cheat during exams|
|maturité||baccalauréat||high-school final examination||From German "Maturitätsexamen", "Matura".|
|mutr||mère||mother||Comes from the German word for "Mother", "Mutter".|
|natel||(téléphone) portable||mobile phone|
|nom de bleu !||nom de dieu !||in the name of god!/god dammit!|
|nonante||quatre-vingt-dix||ninety||In Swiss French, as opposed to the French of France, the words for seventy, eighty and ninety are similar in construction to the ones used for thirty up to sixty.|
|panosse||serpillière||floorcloth or mop|
|papier ménage||papier essuie-tout||paper towel|
|pive||pomme de pin||conifer cone|
|poutzer||nettoyer||to clean||Comes from the German verb "putzen" which means "to clean".|
|Procès verbal d'examen (PV)||bulletin de note||report card|
|réclame||publicité||advertisement||"Réclame" is an older disused word for advertising in French.|
|régie||agence immobilière||real estate agency|
|sans autre||sans plus attendre||without delay|
|santé||à tes/vos souhaits||bless you (when someone sneezes)|
|septante||soixante-dix||seventy||In Swiss French, as opposed to the French of France, words for seventy, eighty and ninety are similar in construction to the ones used for thirty up to sixty.|
|service||je t'en/vous en prie||you're welcome||From "à votre service" meaning "at your service".|
|signofile/indicateur||clignotant||indicator/turn signal (motor vehicle)|
|souper||dîner||dinner||Meal names have shifted in the French of France, where souper has been replaced by dîner (which historically referred to lunch). Swiss French (like those of Belgium and Québec) has retained the older meanings.|
|uni (short for université)||fac (short word for faculté)||university|
|vatr||père||father||Comes from the German word for "Father", "Vater".|
Notes and referencesEdit
- ^ a b "Languages". Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
- ^ "L'aire de diffusion de l'arpitan, en France, en Italie et en Suisse". NotreHistoire.ch (in French). Archived from the original on 2013-07-23.
- ^ a b c d e Knecht, Pierre (2004). Dictionnaire suisse romand (in French). Éditions Zoé. ISBN 9782881825088.
- ^ a b c Babbel.com; GmbH, Lesson Nine. "20 Swiss French Expressions To Know Before Visiting Switzerland". Babbel Magazine. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
- ^ a b c "DÉJEUNER, DÎNER, SOUPER". www.tlfq.org (in French). Retrieved 2022-04-27.
- ^ a b c d e "From 'natel' to 'ça joue': The Swiss French words which help you sound like a local". The Local Europe. 2021-09-06. Retrieved 2022-04-26.
- ^ "From 'natel' to 'ça joue': The Swiss French words which help you sound like a local". The Local Europe. 2021-09-06. Retrieved 2022-04-26.
- French (Swiss) DoReCo corpus compiled by Mathieu Avanzi, Marie-José Béguelin, Gilles Corminboeuf, Federica Diémoz and Laure Anne Johnsen. Audio recordings of narrative texts with transcriptions time-aligned at the phone level, translations, and time-aligned morphological annotations.